Kudos for brave festival lineup
September 5, 2006
We’re not sure why the Jazz Aspen Snowmass ended up with such an unorthodox, eclectic group of musical performers at this year’s Labor Day festival, but we sure enjoyed it.There was a lot of belly-aching around town leading up to this year’s event, mainly complaints about the dearth of megastars and the plethora of obscure up-and-comers. Truth be told, we had some of those thoughts ourselves when we first scanned the list of performers.Judging on the basis of ticket sales, this year’s festival wasn’t exactly a blockbuster. The Sunday show with Don Henley was this year’s top draw at 7,200 tickets sold; that doesn’t compare with the numbers racked up in past years by headliners like Jack Johnson, Tom Petty or Widespread Panic.But let’s not lose sight of what was accomplished this year. Jim Horowitz and friends put together a wildly eclectic and interesting schedule, with everything from country to hip-hop to reggae to Latin-style rock, not to mention fusions of those and still other styles of music. This was not the weekend to see your favorite aging rocker (with the exception of Henley), but it certainly was a weekend to hear new styles of music, to learn what’s fresh and original in the world of popular song, and to do so under bluebird skies in the central Colorado mountains.Perhaps JAS has been too successful for its own good. After raising the bar seemingly every year with bigger names and bigger sales, this year’s wild, multicultural mélange may have felt like a break in form.Whatever.Personally, we’re grateful for the opportunity to hear these sounds in the Roaring Fork Valley. Around the office, everyone has his opinion about which bands he liked and which ones he didn’t, and it’s clear that nobody liked everything. But it’s also true that virtually everybody liked something. And when they weren’t enjoying the music, they slipped back to the farthest recesses of the lawn or the vendor village and relaxed in the sunshine.The 2006 Labor Day festival didn’t break any attendance records, but the schedule was memorable for its creativity and variety. Thanks to JAS for adding so much to life in the valley.